Summer is one of the best times of the year to take your bicycle out and enjoy what Virginia’s roads have to offer. Unfortunately, there are many drivers in the state that are too impatient or negligent to give bicyclists the space they deserve. In 2017, there were around 670 bicycle crashes in the state. Over 600 of them resulted in personal injuries while 13 of them were fatal. The amount of fatalities is a 30 percent increase over 2016.
Motorists need to respect a cyclist’s rights when they come across each other on the streets. There are many laws in place to try and give cyclists the protection they deserve during their rides. If you plan on putting your helmet on and taking your bike out for a ride near major roads, it is important that you know your rights as a bicyclist if a motor vehicle ends up harming you.
Bicyclists sharing the road with other vehicles
Many drivers get annoyed when they end up in the same lane as a bicyclist due to their slower speed. However, it is perfectly fine for a bicyclist to be there if they follow the state’s rules. Even when sidewalks are available, the state encourages bicyclists to avoid them to prevent any injuries to walking pedestrians. They should ride in the center of the lane to make it better for approaching vehicles to see them. If a bicyclist wishes to make a turn, they must use the proper hand signals to yield to the other vehicles and check their surroundings for traffic.
There are some roads with established bike lanes that bicyclists can take to avoid being in front of other vehicles. If the bicyclist chooses to ride at night time or during stormy conditions, they must have lights and reflectors on their bikes and wear brightly colored clothing for cars to see them better.
How motorists should respect the rights
If a motor vehicle driver is near a bicyclist, the state requires them to go at a slower speed and give them at least 3 feet of room if they decide to pass the bicyclist. Failing to adhere to either of these could put the bicyclist in serious danger. The driver should be aware of their surroundings at all times and avoid any distractions that could keep their eyes off the roads. Since a person riding a bicycle is not as visible as other vehicles, it is crucial that drivers have their eyes on the roads and mirrors at all times.
Unless they are turning, motorists should not go into the bike lanes and instead give the bicyclists the proper room. If they plan on turning on the bike lane or in general, they should check their mirrors to see how close the bicyclist is and signal the riders near them or pedestrians on the crosswalk with their blinker. This is especially important as a driver’s failure to yield resulted in the majority of bicycle crashes last year.
Despite the amount of laws in place, many uneducated, impatient and negligent drivers cause hundreds of bicycle crashes every year in Virginia. Even if you follow all the rules as a bicyclist, all it takes is one bad driver to put you in the hospital. In cases like these, you should take legal action against the driver to receive compensation to help pay for your medical expenses.